Monday 15 January 2024

Carolyn came in her underwear and it was brilliant 😮

Now, it's not quite what it seems... Carolyn is one of our very talented members and belongs to The 1635 Household - a Jacobean re-enactment group. They mainly deal with domestic life rather than battles and the like. Carolyn kindly agreed to come and talk to us about Jacobean costume and what a fascinating morning we had. She brought lots of her 'higher-end folk' outfits - all of which she has made herself and also embroidered - her work is absolutely stunning, it was a real privilege to see them and hear about the process of designing and making.

Carolyn does lots of research to try and be as authentic as possible and takes inspiration from period portraits and original pieces found in museum collections. Her clothes are made from authentic materials - wool, linen, silk, taffeta and silk velvet. She also makes lace where possible. Thought has to be given to budget and practicalities such as washing.

Carolyn brought shoes, hose and ties, smock, fitted kirtle aka a pair of bodies, ruffs, collars , jackets, skirts and coifs. 

She started in her underwear - the shoes to kirtle... 

...and then gradually added the other layers explaining each as she went. As all items of clothing are made to fit the wearer everything was far more comfortable than you might imagine. 

This jacket was inspired by the Maidstone jacket and has a lovely peapod motif and looks stunning in white and red.

The black and white jacket was inspired by the Dandelion jacket in the Bath Museum

Often when we see historical items in museums the colours have faded but in reality the colours would have been much brighter sometimes with the addition of spangles (Jacobean equivalent of sequins) and the use of gold and silver threads.
The Margaret Layton jacket is perhaps one of the most famous embroidered pieces of period clothing you may have seen; it's in the V&A and is unusual as we have the actual jacket and a portrait of Margaret wearing it. Carolyn has a beautiful jacket invoking the V&A one.

Then we get to the coifs. We all loved the ingenuity of these items and the fact they were constructed in such a way that they fit almost anyone because they were gathered with a tie. Carolyn brought various examples all based on originals.

Clearer photos below! Then we were on to ruffs and rebato collars, pockets and knife holders, all beautifully made. 
What a talented lady you are Carolyn, it was such a pleasure to have you speak this morning and share your exquisite work.
Here's Carolyn fully clothed and some close ups of the embroidery - and yes, it's all her own work and all clothes are hand stitched too.


  1. Such an inspiring talk - it might even persuade me to take up Whitework

    1. The whitework was inspired by a coif belonging to King Charles 1!